After selling my motorcycle a year and 1/2 ago (Triumph Sprint ST), I was really wanting another toy. I had been driving a 1999 Ford Ranger for the last 10 years. I starting scanning CL and local auto traders, and then I started on the wife. She gave the green light and I decided to sell the Ranger, kick in 2 thousand out of my own pocket, and replace it with a Jeep.
I have not owned a Wrangler since college. Back in 1992 I had a new Base model. I was not into mods back then, but I did install wheel spacers, 16" alloy saw blade rims and some pretty cool tires. I wheeled it all over the campus property, along with some pretty late night field/country adventures, one involving almost losing the Jeep (literally) via water.....lol
I got really lucky and stumbled upon a YJ only 3 miles from work. I purchased this 1995 YJ from a local small used car dealership here in Charlotte. He acquired the Jeep via a trade in from a large parent car dealership (this is where he acquires most of his vehicles).
I went with the YJ because it's cheap (fit my budget), indestructible, and most important - SIMPLE.
I test drove it, engine was solid, no knocks or leaks (that I could see). Transmission was solid, all gears shifted with no problems. All 4X4 gears worked. Rear brakes were bad. Frame was solid. No rust other than surface under the drivers side floor mat. Jeep had body damage, most noticeable along passenger side + door. I am assuming it happening via wheeling it hard (tree damage it looked like). Most important is that he had just had it NC inspected, AND the soft top was in excellent condition. I would not have the Ranger, and this Jeep had to be a DD for me at least 3 days out of the week.
I made a cash offer, he accepted, and the Jeep was mine.
What the Jeep had when I purchased it:
2" body lift
3.5" Black Diamond spring lift kit
Skyjacker Hydro 7000 shocks + steering stabilizer
American Racing AR-767 rims
Remington MUD BRUTE 33" tires (with a fairly decent amount of tread)
I live right off of Lake Wylie, Browns Cove to be exact. Not far from my house, prob 1.5 miles, there is a series of trails and mud running in and out of parallel to the lake stemming from a power line than runs all the way into SC.
My neighbors all have 4 wheelers. Can Am and Kawasaki Vtwins. They wheel the heck out of these things on the weekends....my closet neighbor goes thru winches like I go thru light beer if you know what I mean....lol
First thing first when I got the Jeep home. FLUID CHANGES.
I changed the following over that first weekend:
Transfer Case fluid
Rear differential fluid + new gasket (this thing was a mess)
Engine oil + good filter
new spark plug cables (the plugs were still good)
new dist cap
The following weekend I did the brakes. I purchased new rotors and pads for the front. And new shoes, cylinders and a rear brake kit for the rear. My neighbor/buddy just so happens to be a Ford diesel mechanic, so he was able to machine the existing drums for a case of Busch Light
Cannot tell you how much better the Jeep brakes now....and I barely have to press down the e-brake to lock it straight up. Very nice stuff....
Next comes the start of many mods. Modding a Jeep is like any other addiction, LOL. It's fun and a great hobby. Just have to pace yourself and watch the wallet. And most importantly, if your married - not draw too much wife agro.
3 weeks into this, after selling my gaming PC, yes I have given up online gaming for off roading, wife was VERY pleased, I had enough cash to purchase a new bumper, winch, and air compressor.
The winch was a MUST. My wheeling buddies will be my neighoors. They will be on 4 wheelers and I will be in the Jeep. Without a winch, I would be up **** creek if you know what I mean....because they will go hard....
Parts arrived and I started the install on the bumper and winch.
To remove the old one I had to use a crobar, but did not have to use much pressure, once one side was out the other came right off.
I had to make a slight modification to the new Smittybilt XRC series bumper. It would not fit over the front frame tube welds. With a simple but good hack saw, I was able to fix the problem with a few minutes of easy hand sawing.
I decided to reuse the hi lights from the older bumper. They were in good shape, plus were rectangle. I thought it might be cool to mount a side by side set on the bumper keeping the YJ square light distinction in tact.
Installing the lights were easy. Running the wires thru the bumper tube, that was the time sync...lol
I felt like Macgyver, and after posted a thread on my issue, I had it resolved in 24 hours. The guys here know they stuff that is for sure.
The solution was drilling a new hole 1 inch below the existing template punch hole up top by the lights. And instead of running the wire from the top to the bottom (which was like trying to fish after 15 beers), I ran the wire from bottom to top. Once I could see it with the new hole, the problem was solved.
33's are good just stink on the interstate @ high speeds or climbing up hills at a fast pace. But that's standard with the 4 banger on fast roads with lift/tires.
My commute is 20 miles round trip so it's not so bad.
I would def not go any higher than 33's on a 2.5L without a regear.
I am not sure what I will do with the rear axle. That decision changes every week....LOL!! Does not help my wife's dad has his 96 Explorer t-boned and has a 8.8 sitting helplessly just begging to be stripped.....lot of work though and I am not sure if I want to use it on a 2.5L....
Maybe leave it as is and install 4.88 gears I dunno.
The front will definitely get a Aussie Locker, for the price you just can't beat it....
Throw that 8.8 in there. You will NOT regret it. Trust me, its a GREAT idea. That turdy five is a time bomb. Good looking jeep man keep up the work
Oh and for the 2.5, with the right gearing, that little engine can do more than you would have ever thought possible. It pulls my 36s like a champ but the 5.13s help alot
Few pics of local wheeling this weekend....so lucky to have killer trails only a few miles from the house....not so lucky to hit one of the largest potholes when I told the wife I was doing dinner at 7PM.....LOL